Book Review – The First 3 of 2020

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Due to my crazy personal and professional schedule (and laziness), I’ve only been able to complete reading a shameful total of 3 books so far this year.

It’s ridiculous that I have to fight to make time to read for pleasure and the low count still blows my mind but I guess it’s better than nothing.

Because of the amount of time it took to finish the books I struggled with writing a review. This is far from comprehensive but I thought it necessary (if anything, to help clear the cobwebs from the blog) to say a few things about these books.

 

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

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“The way Nacha told it, Tita was literally washed into this world on a great tide of tears that spilled over the edge of the table and flooded across the kitchen floor”   

one of my favourite lines from the book

I first heard about this book from an interview with Common where he mentioned that his album – Like Water for Chocolate – was named after a movie inspired by the novel.

He compared the protagonist’s passion for cooking to his passion for music which made me curious about the book so I added it to my ever-growing list of books to read.

LWFC is set in Mexico circa 1920 and is your typical saccharine romance novel, but what really sets it apart for me a bit is how different recipes are infused into each chapter of the book.

A huge theme of the novel is the art of cooking and the protagonist’s distinguishing trait is her ability to cook up a storm. There are also notes of magical realism sprinkled across the book.

Each chapter begins with the outline of a recipe of a Mexican dish that is then woven into the chapter it precedes, and in line with your regular romance novel, there are the star-crossed lovers, their forbidden love, the series of unfortunate events that pulls them apart, and their eventual but detrimental union.

It’s great for light reading and also if you’re a huge fan of food.

 

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

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If you’ve read my review of the other and first Khaled Hosseini book I’ve read – A Thousand Splendid Suns – then you’d know how much I adore him as a writer and why I’m on a mission to read any and everything he’s ever written.

When my mother saw me reading ATME she asked me if this one was also sad. I had to laugh. I’d given her my copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns a few months back and the book, as expected, tore her apart.

ATME is, in fact, another “sad” book. The novel begins with a fable that bears the lessons of love, loss and sacrifice which are major themes in the book and pretty much sets the tone for the entire book.

The book contains a rich cast of characters and different stories. Some of the stories tie into each other and others don’t. It still amazes me how he was able to force multiple characters and stories to submit into occupying a single book. He does this without opening the book up to predictability or neglecting the little details that would give even the supporting characters full lives in the mind of the reader. 

This is another solid attempt by Hosseini to expose us to some of the sad and beautiful realities of our life on earth and I fully recommend it.

 

Travellers by Helon Habila

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It took me a really long time to complete this one because I had so much work/work-related reading I had to prioritise over it.

I’d read 5 -7 pages in a day then I wouldn’t touch it again until the following week. I feel like this impacted my experience of the book in some way but even with that, it was still a powerful read.

Travellers must’ve been as difficult to write as it was to read. Immigration is currently a global hot-button topic and it has been for some time now. With every article or think-piece I’ve read about it, none has really seared my heart like the stories in this book.

I understand that some might say this is fiction but the truth is that fiction is largely a reflection of our reality, especially the difficult parts we often refrain from speaking about.

This is a grand tale of migrants. In the beginning, you’re introduced to what I consider to be the main character and then we go on to learn about the supporting characters of the book. It was really interesting to discover how all their lives connected in big and small ways.

It did get to a point where I found it a bit difficult to keep reading because it became too heartbreaking and I remember having to pause to breathe before moving on.

I appreciate the book for the refreshing perspective it’s given me on the refugee crisis/migration.

Peace and much love to you,

Ehmie O.

Ps. Featured images were taken by the writer

3 thoughts on “Book Review – The First 3 of 2020”

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